With their season on the line, the ACUVUE Sydney University Flames showed remarkable composure to defeat Logan Thunder 64-61 in overtime at the Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre on Saturday night.
After the scores were locked at 56-all at full-time, thanks to an Alicia Poto three-pointer with 30 seconds on the clock, the Flames capitalised on a number of Thunder blunders in overtime to run out relieved winners.
The Flames have three more games before Christmas and coach Karen Dalton is hoping her young charges can maintain the winning edge and stay in contention for the 2008-09 WNBL finals.
“We struggled to settle into the game against Logan but luckily we got the points and that gives us a head-to-head edge over them,” Dalton said. “They played a solid zone defence and really made us work hard.
“We have some important games before Christmas and we need to stay focused. Every game from here on is critical for use to make the finals.”
The Flames literally stole the match on Saturday night. Tight one-on-one defence had forced the game into a slow, low-scoring affair before a steal in the dying minutes gave the Flames the chance to take the lead. They capitalised and held on to grab the vital competition points.
With defence at a premium, Evan Afeaki was a standout performer for the winners, finishing with 25 points (including 15 from the foul line) to go with 10 rebounds and five assists. She backed up those impressive statistics with three blocked shots.
The Flames led 31-25 at the main break but were confronted with an aggressive Logan zone defence to start the third term. With guards Kristen Veal and Sarah Graham attacking the basket, the visitors soon gained the lead and stretched it to a seven-point margin.
The Flames struggled to settle on offence and their first points of the second half were five minutes in the making. They gradually reined in the deficit, but the Thunder maintained a three-point lead at the final break, 49-46.
The lead see-sawed during the final term as both teams struggled for points, but the closeness of the scoreboard kept fans on the edge of their seats.
Logan coach Richard Orlick inspired his troops during a time-out and they returned to the court to force four consecutive turnovers, resulting in easy baskets and a five-point lead late in the term.
The visitors looked in control as the clock wound down, but Poto had different ideas and her three-pointer to level the score could well be season-defining.
Some big baskets from young forward Sally Potocki kept the Flames in touch during the extra period as they held on to secure the points.
ACUVUE Sydney University Flames 64 (Eva Afeaki 25, Lindsey Pluimer 12, Alicia Poto 10) d Logan Thunder 61 (Sarah Graham 17, Kristen Veal 12, Holly Smith 10) at Sydney University Sports and Aquatic Centre.